Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 148, Issue 86

Wednesday, June 6, 2012
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker

Mr. Dhondup Wangchen

Tibetan Political Prisoner

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, yesterday our colleagues Senator Munson and Senator Di Nino spoke articulately about Tiananmen Square in China. I rise today to speak about the case of Mr. Dhondup Wangchen, a Tibetan political prisoner who was unjustly detained on March 26, 2008.

Mr. Dhondup Wangchen, who is an acclaimed filmmaker, has spent the past four years of his life in detention for simply providing the people of Tibet with an outlet to freely and openly express their views on the upcoming Beijing Olympics. These interviews provided the basis for Mr. Wangchen’s world- renowned film entitled Leaving Fear Behind, which has been described by the New York Times as “an unadorned indictment of the Chinese government.”

The footage that Mr. Wangchen captured reveals with stark reality how the Tibetan people are frustrated and embittered by the deterioration and marginalization of the Tibetan language and culture; the lack of religious freedoms; and the broken promises of the Chinese government to improve the conditions in Tibet in the run-up to the Olympic Games. Our own Prime Minister Stephen Harper has also been supportive of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people.

I have met with members of the Tibetan-Canadian communities and listened with a heavy heart as they spoke about the oppression and persecution their brothers and sisters in Tibet continue to face every day.

During this meeting I had the opportunity to hear of Mr. Dhondup Wangchen’s wife, Lhamo Tso, who had travelled with members of the Tibetan committee to meet with various parliamentarians to ask for help in demanding justice for her husband. Lhamo Tso’s undying dedication as a wife of a political prisoner and as a Tibetan has led her to countries around the world to call on the international community to stand up for her husband and hundreds of prisoners inside Tibet.

Currently Mr. Wangchen is experiencing deteriorating health conditions while serving a six-year sentence imposed on him by the Chinese government without a fair trial. Poor living conditions and torture have led him to contract hepatitis B, which is the biggest concern for his wife, his four children and his supporters around the world. Amnesty International has corroborated reports that Mr. Wangchen is being denied proper medical treatment and that his condition is worsening.

Honourable senators, I urge you all to join me in requesting the release of Dhondup Wangchen and in supporting a global multilateral forum on Tibet in response to the grievances of the Tibetan people in their desire for freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet.

I would like to conclude with a statement made in 2010 by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, which I am confident Mr. Wangcheng’s supporters and Tibetans around the world will find great solace in:

Despite the great hardships Tibetans have faced for many decades, they have been able to keep up their courage and determination, preserve their compassionate culture and maintain their unique identity. I salute the courage of those Tibetans still enduring fear and oppression.

Whatever circumstances we find ourselves in, it is the responsibility of all Tibetans to maintain equality, harmony and unity among the various nationalities, while continuing to protect our unique identity and culture.